Dyson opens up to The Sunday Times on the difficulties that caused his electric car project to be canned, as the entrepreneur heads the Rich List

Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson says that he lost £500 million of his own money on his abandoned project to build a ‘groundbreaking’ electric car.

Dyson’s eponymous technology company established a Dyson Automotive division, with 500 staff and a commitment to invest £2.5 billion into technology including the electric car project.

Development had begun in 2014 but in October last year Dyson scrapped plans for the car, which had been due to launch in 2021, because he didn’t feel the project was commercially viable.

Dyson and his family topped this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated net worth of £16.2 billion, an increase of £3.6 billion from 2019. In an interview with the paper, Dyson revealed some new details about the EV project – which had progressed to the point that a working prototype was running at the time it was axed.

As well as confirming that he lost £500 million on the abandoned scheme, Dyson said that the seven-speed SUV, codenamed N526, had a 600-mile range, and could achieve 0-62mph in 4.8sec with a top speed of 125mph. The car produced around 536bhp and 479lb ft of torque from two electric motors.

Dyson told The Sunday Times that “there’s huge sadness and disappointment” about the project. He added: “Ours is a life of risk and of failure. We try things and fail. Life isn’t easy.”

Speaking about the economics of the project, Dyson said: “I don’t have a fleet. I’ve got to make a profit on each car or I’d jeopardise the whole company. In the end it was too risky.” He added that when “other companies started producing electric cars at a loss, it became too risky for us”.

Chemicals magnate Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose new Ineos Automotive firm is currently developing the Grenadier 4x4 for a planned launch in 2021, is fifth on the Rich List with an estimated worth of £12.2 billion.

Former Formula 1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone is 56th, with an estimated worth of £2.5 billion. Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis is 300th, with an estimated worth of £445 million, while Mercedes-AMG F1 team boss Toto Wolff and his wife Susie are 369th, with a worth of £355 million.

Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton is the highest-ranked sportsperson, with The Sunday Times claiming that his £224 million makes him the wealthiest sportsperson in the list’s 32-year history.

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33

18 May 2020
600 mile range, I guess there's no proof of this but if true I'd have thought he would have had people clamering to buy one, seems a shame but if it didn't add up, fair enough. I am also surprised the project got as far as it did before this realisation, most start ups struggle to be profitable.

18 May 2020
si73 wrote:

600 mile range, I guess there's no proof of this but if true I'd have thought he would have had people clamering to buy one.

If true, I'd have thought he'd have mainstream manufacturers clamering to buy his technology.

You don't become a multi billionaire by writing off 500 million. I'm willing to bet there's more to this story than meets the eye.

18 May 2020

With 600 mile range the only way to do that would be to increase the amount of batteries it was carrying.   Which goes a long way to explain why its 0-62 was so slow given the amount of power it had.    And the low top speed too.

 

That 3 ton monster would have take a bit of stopping too...

18 May 2020
The correct decision - resembles a Volvo C30

18 May 2020
wyaak2 wrote:

The correct decision - resembles a Volvo C30

Put ya glasses on, it looks nothing like one.

18 May 2020

It would be interesting to learn how Dyson achieved this sort of range. But assuming that the batteries were conventional lithium ion type, they must have been extremely heavy, bulky and costly. If not, I'm sure there plenty of manufacturers who would be interested in the technology!   

18 May 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

It would be interesting to learn how Dyson achieved this sort of range.

Rather than tow a caravan, perhaps his car was towing a ruddy big battery around.

18 May 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

 assuming that the batteries were conventional lithium ion type

I think I've read somewhere that Dyson was working with solid state batteries.  Perhaps he foresaw that far more development was needed before they become viable.  Also, that surprise 7 speed gearbox might have helped to achieve the 600 mile range; BEVs don't seem to need a gearbox but the original Tesla roadster had a 2 speed.  Perhaps making life easier for an electric motor by asking it to operate in a narrower speed range improves efficiency & range.

18 May 2020

I am unsure why with the advent of EV’s, so many companies have suddenly decided that they want to get in to the automotive manufacturing industry . Even before the pandemic, there were not too many companies making millions. I would have thought the trials and tribulations of Tesla would have demonstrated how hard it is to volume manufacturer at a cost effective price. A good EV is far more than a motor and battery.

18 May 2020

Its easy to make money on musks tesla scam cars when you mostly sell to a finite number to rich tax cheats who use the car as a ‘vehicle’ to pay less tax to the irs/hmrc .

one example of many is in the US where the model x is deliberately designed to be obscenely heavy because a vehicle over GVWR 6500lb is classed as commercial under the 'hummer tax  loophole' so most model x buyers use it as a fake company vehicle(most youtubers do this fyi) or set up a bogus shell business and in turn write of the entire $100000 vehicle value.

The REAL challenge is the sub £30k family car sector which is cut throat and not a tesla tax scam which only exists on subsides and serving rich tax cheats

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